The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) has described as untrue media reports that cocoa bean importers in Japan have rejected cocoa exports from Ghana after detecting a foreign chemical in a consignment.
The board said although the chemical, 2,4-D, was detected in a 100-tonne consignment shipped to Japan in July last year, the incident did not, in any way, affect cocoa bean exports to Japan, contrary to what had been reported.
The board was reacting to an earlier report by The Chronicle to the effect that Japanese importers were rejecting Ghana’s cocoa beans after 2,4-D, a pesticide, was detected in an earlier consignment.
In a press statement issued yesterday, COCOBOD said the issue was resolved amicably, paving the way for Ghana and Japan to continue to do business, to the mutual benefit of both countries.
“The consignment in question was not returned to Ghana. It was not rejected, as being alleged,” it said in the release copied to the Daily Graphic.
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“Japan has since received over 42,000 metric tons (MT) of cocoa from Ghana without any issue in respect of a breach of any of the testing protocols,” the statement, issued by the Public Affairs Department of the board, said.
It further explained that COCOBOD “does not and has not given out or subscribed to the use of herbicides by cocoa farmers as a means of weeds control”.
Explaining the circumstances behind the issue, the statement said the board and the Chocolate and Cocoa Association of Japan (CCAJ) agreed in 2008 to establish protocols for testing chemical residues on cocoa for shipment to that country.
“The attention of COCOBOD was drawn to a 100-tonne consignment to Japan in which 2, 4-D was detected in July 2017,” it said.
A Manager at the Office of the Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, Mr Fiifi Boafo, also said given that 2, 4-D was not part of the critical chemicals being tested for the
Japanese shipment prior to the June 2017 encounter, the Japanese importers alerted the Ghana Embassy and expressed the need for COCOBOD to deal with the issue.
“Based on that, they told our quality control department that going forward, we are supposed to add 2, 4-D to our protocols and that has been done,” he said.
As a result, he said, 2,4-D had now become part of the total testing processes for Ghana’s cocoa before it was shipped to Japan.
Following from the incident, Mr Boafo said, staff of the Cocoa Health & Extension Division (CHED) and the Quality Control Company (QCC) had intensified farmer-education on the appropriate use of weedicides and herbicides on cocoa farms by farmers.
“The chief executive, in various field interactions with cocoa farmers, has repeatedly cautioned cocoa farmers against the use of unapproved chemicals in cocoa farming.
“Indeed, he has also continuously encouraged cocoa farmers to desist from using herbicides for the control of weeds, particularly on mature cocoa farms,” he added.
He said COCOBOD would continue to ensure that it maintained the niche it had carved for itself over the past 70 years as the producer of best quality cocoa beans the world over.
Cocoa from Ghana is considered premium by international chocolate producers, making it the best sought after by the grinders.
As a result, most grinders, including those from Japan, insist on blending their cocoa beans from other countries with Ghana’s premium bean to help achieve the needed taste and quality.